Saturday, 19 April 2014 : Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection, Easter Triduum (Third Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Exodus 14 : 15 – Exodus 15 : 1

YHVH said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. You will raise your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it to let the Israelites go dryfoot through the sea. I will so harden the minds of the Egyptians that they will follow you. And I will have glory at the expense of Pharaoh, his army, his chariots and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am YHVH when I gain glory for Myself at the cost of Pharaoh and his army!”

The Angel of God who had gone ahead of the Israelites now placed himself behind them. The pillar of cloud changed its position from the front to the rear, between the camps of the Israelites and the Egyptians. For one army the cloud provided light, for the other darkness so that throughout the night the armies drew no closer to each other.

Moses stretched his hand over the sea and YHVH made a strong east wind blow all night and dry up the sea. The waters divided and the sons of Israel went on dry ground through the middle of the sea, with the waters forming a wall to their right and to their left. The Egyptians followed them and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and horsemen moved forward in the middle of the sea.

It happened that in the morning watch, YHVH in the pillar of cloud and fire, looked towards the Egyptian camp and threw it into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could hardly move. Then the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites for YHVH is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then YHVH said to Moses, “Stretch your hand over the sea and let the waters come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak the sea returned to its place. As the Egyptians tried to flee, YHVH swept them into the sea.

The waters flowed back and engulfed the chariots and horsemen of the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them escaped. As for the Israelites they went forward on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the waters forming a wall on their right and their left.

On that day YHVH delivered Israel from the power of the Egyptians and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. They understood what wonders YHVH had done for them against Egypt, and the people feared YHVH. They believed in YHVH and in Moses, His servant.

Then Moses and the people sang this song to YHVH : “I will sing to YHVH, the Glorious One, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”

Thursday, 6 March 2014 : Thursday after Ash Wednesday (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Brothers and sisters in Christ, carrying one’s cross is the thing which most of us did not want to do, and we refused to do so even after the Lord made it clear what He wanted from us. We prefer to enjoy the pleasures of this world rather than following the Lord, and we prefer the ways of Satan to the way of Christ.

The path of the Lord is not an easy one, and there will be lots of suffering and challenges, as Satan owns this world, and he works his plots and attacks against God and His people through that same world, the one where we are living at the moment. But even though the path of the Lord is not an easy one, at the end of the way is happiness and blessing, such as what God had promised His people in the first reading today, if they kept His commandments and walked in His ways.

On the other hand, the path of Satan appears to be an easier and a much better one, because it seems that this path has much fewer obstacles and challenges facing us, as compared to that of the path of the Lord. But the pleasures and happiness with which the devil had spiced up his path are not true happiness and joy. These are illusions and attempts to replicate true happiness that exists only in God.

And brethren, you all know what awaits at the end of the path of Satan, that is death, and not just the kind of death that we know of, but eternal death. That is because the Lord, as He also said to the people in the first reading, will withdraw His blessing and instead His curse will hang over the people should they fail to follow His commandments and disobeyed His will.

If we choose to follow the path of evil, and choose the apparently easier path, then we are dooming ourselves. That is because in doing so, we reject the Lord and His love, rejecting the blessing of eternal life which He had promised for all those who remain faithful to Him and those who dedicate themselves to Him. We certainly do not want ourselves to end up this way, do we not?

Perseverance is the key, brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are to receive the blessings of Almighty God, then we ought to persevere in our faith. We cannot take our faith for granted, and neither should we take for granted the salvation which God had promised us all who believe in Him. Our faith must be living and genuine, and we must keep in mind always, that our faith must indeed be like carrying the cross, our own crosses, imitating what Jesus had done as He went on His Passion to save us.

Yes, brethren, if we want to follow the Lord and walk in His ways, then we should be ready to bear the burden of being His faithful ones. There will be opposition and even mockery, and there will be those who will look down on us because of our choice. But if we are to persevere and keep strong our faith, then we will persevere. Shall we choose the easy way out, a good life in this world, and yet in the end, be thrown into eternal suffering?

It is not wrong, brothers and sisters, to enjoy our life in this world, but it also means that we cannot just enjoy and do nothing else. We cannot just enjoy the pleasures and happiness of this world, without doing anything in accordance to the will of God. In fact, the more we immerse ourselves in the joy of this world, the less likely we are to act in the way that is pleasing to God. We have to be always mindful of this and keep a steady balance in our life.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is imperative for us to carry our cross, not literally or figuratively, but to do what is right and what is according to the will of God, that we may endure together as one, the suffering of Christ, and therefore understand the love that God had for us all, so much that He gave us Himself and His own life, that we all may live.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this Lenten season, let us maximise the time and opportunity that we have, so that we may seek to devote ourselves more and more to the Lord, and if necessary, changing our ways that we may once again walk in the way of the Lord, and no longer following the devil into his rebellion. May God our Lord and our loving Father continue to bless us, watch over us, and protect us as we walk with Jesus His Son, towards our salvation and eternal glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014 : 8th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Casimir (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3c-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.

Friday, 7 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 17 : 31, 47 and 50, 51

This God – His way is perfect; the word of the Lord can stand fire. He is a shield for those who seek refuge in Him.

The Lord lives! Praised be my Rock! Exalted be my Saviour God, for this I extol You, o Lord, among the nations; I will sing praise to Your Name.

He has given victories to His king; He has shown His love to His anointed ones, to David, and to his descendants forever.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014 : 4th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

2 Samuel 18 : 9-10, 14b, 24-25a, 30 – 2 Samuel 19 : 3

Absalom was riding a mule and happened to meet the guards of David. As the mule passed under the thick branches of a big oak tree, his head was caught in the oak tree and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule he was riding went its way.

Someone reported to Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging from an oak tree.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them into Absalom’s heart while he was still alive in the oak tree.

David was sitting between the two gates. The watchman posted at the roof of the gate, on the wall, saw a man running alone. So he called out and reported to the king.

So the king said, “Move away and stand there.” He moved aside and stayed there. The Cushite arrived and said, “Good news for my lord the king! YHVH has done you justice today and saved you from all those who rebelled against you.”

The king asked the Cushite, “How is the young Absalom?” The Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rebel against you end up like that young man.”

The king was greatly disturbed and, going up to the room over the gate, he wept and said, “O, my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! Would that I had died instead of you, o Absalom, my son, my son!”

It was reported to Joab, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day turned into mourning for all the people, when they heard that the king was grieving over his son.

Thursday, 23 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

1 Samuel 18 : 6-9 and 1 Samuel 19 : 1-7

When the soldiers arrived after David had slain the Philistine, the women came out from the cities of Israel to meet king Saul singing and dancing with timbrels and musical instruments. They were merrily singing this song : “Saul has slain his thousands, and David, his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very displeased with this song and said, “They have given tens of thousands to David but to me only thousands! By now he has everything but the kingdom!” From then on, Saul became very distrustful of David.

Saul told his son Jonathan and his servants of his intention to kill David. But Jonathan, who liked David very much, said to David, “My father Saul wants to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning and hide yourself in a secret place. I will go out and keep my father company in the countryside where you are and I will speak to him about you. If I find out something, I will let you know.”

Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul and said, “Let not the king sin against his servant David for he has not sinned against you. On the contrary, what he has done has benefitted you. He risked his life in killing the Philistine and YHVH brought about a great victory for Israel. You yourself saw this and greatly rejoiced. Why then sin against innocent blood and kill David without cause?”

Saul heeded Jonathan’s plea and swore, “As YHVH lives, he shall not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and told him all these things. He then brought him to Saul and David was back in Saul’s service as before.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard the famous story of David versus Goliath, the well known biblical story based on how the young David, before he was made the king of Israel, fought against the giant Philistinian warrior Goliath, much larger than David himself, and he won a surprising victory.

Many did not believe at first that David would even have any remote chance of winning the encounter, and they ridiculed David for his attempt. The King of Israel and his advisors and servants ridiculed him, and his enemies mad fun of him. They did not know that the Lord God was with David, and guided Him with His strength.

Mankind could not rely on their own power and hope to win. Many do not know that strength or power alone could not save them, that is because true strength lie only in God. The giant Philistine warrior Goliath certainly made use of his huge size to physically intimidate his enemies and boast over them. But he was powerless when David with the wisdom and strength of God humbled him and killed him with mere sling and stones.

There are many lessons that we can learn from the story of David versus Goliath. One is that we should not fear any thing or any challenges that face us, no matter how daunting or challenging they may be. If we acknowledge defeat before we even try, then indeed we have already been defeated. We have to always keep up faith in all things, because the Lord is indeed with us.

Yes, that is another lesson we should learn, that without God we are nothing, but with God, everything is possible. We should not put our trust in our own strength alone, but we should rather put our trust in God. That is because as Goliath’s defeat had shown us, that the power of men may fail, but the power of God never fails.

And finally, just as King David had been faithful and righteous, true to his calling as the servant of God, we too should be faithful in God as he was. Follow the Lord, understand His ways and obey Him. Do not trust in the fallibility and the vulnerabilities of men, as Jesus had shown in the Gospel today, as He rebuked the Pharisees who criticised Him and tried to block His good works for mankind.

The Pharisees were the learnt ones, those who supposedly were knowledgeable about the Lord and His laws. Yet, they have given in to their pride and arrogance, thinking of themselves as the judges and arbiters of God’s people, imposing on them strict rules and regulations that were based not on true understanding of the meaning behind the Law, but based on their human interpretation of it.

They were hell bent on maintaining their superiority and position, as well as teaching authority, of their version of the Law, that they openly confronted Jesus and blocked Him at every possible opportunity, including what they did as covered in today’s Gospel. They failed to see, through their veil of pride and ignorance, the truth about Christ, and how true His teachings were.

Indeed, the laws and the rules especially regarding Sabbath did not make the people of God slaves to the law. The law was given to them to guide them, so that they may understand the Lord and His ways better, and not to burden them unnecessarily with punishments and censures, as the Pharisees tried to do in their flawed understanding of the law.

What Jesus said is true, while it is definitely not permissible to do evil or harm on Sabbath, and indeed not just on Sabbath but also at any other time, it is not right to prevent or block any attempts to do good on that day. For doing something good towards others is equivalent to doing it for God, and for His glory. To deny someone from doing good, even on Sabbath is tantamount to denying God the glory He is to obtain from those actions.

Today, brothers and sisters, we celebrate the feast day of St. Vincent, a deacon of the early Church and a martyr of the faith. He was also known as St. Vincent of Saragossa, who lived in the Roman Hispania during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian, the infamous Emperor who was the last great persecutor of the faith. St. Vincent was a deacon of the city he was known with, and he was arrested together with his bishop by the governor of Hispania.

St. Vincent spoke both for himself and for his bishop due to the latter’s speech impediment. St. Vincent spoke so bravely and courageously in the defense of his faith, that he was tortured and put to death by the governor, with punishment even greater and more severe than that dealt to his bishop and the other prisoners. Yet, he never gave up and persevered for his faith until the end.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the example of St. Vincent showed us that it is important for us to understand the true meaning of our faith. Our faith is not just about following the laws and precepts of the Lord, but we have to really devote ourselves to God in the same way that St. Vincent had done. Maybe not in facing martyrdom and death in the same way as St. Vincent, but in our life, that we show concretely the zeal and the faith we have in us.

How to do so? Simply by making ourselves available to others who need us. Love one another genuinely, and show forgiveness for those who have done us wrong. Be loving and be genuine in that love. Through that, God will see our faith in Him, a genuine faith based in love, and He will reward us.

Let us therefore understand our faith better, and devote ourselves ever more deeply in God. Let us not be distracted by the concerns of this world. May the Lord our God strengthen our faith and empower the love we have in ourselves. God be with us all. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Saturday, 18 January 2014 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of our Lady)

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o Lord, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; you have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Thursday, 2 January 2014 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you lands, make a joyful noise to the Lord, break into song and sing praise.